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Toni Pearce was elected as President of the National Union of Students (NUS) yesterday, at the Union’s national conference in Sheffield. Pearce won the election in the first round, taking 424 of the 732 valid votes cast and beating her two opponents.
Pearce will be the first NUS President who has not been to university. She is currently the NUS’s Vice President (Further Education), representing more than 450 of the NUS’s affiliated students unions in further education (FE) institutions. The majority of the students the NUS represents are in FE.
Speaking after her election, Pearce, said: “I’m really proud to have been given the opportunity to build the student movement around a vision for public education, and to be leading NUS as we build towards the next general election.
“Between now and 2015 we need to hold a full and frank debate about what education means to society and to properly articulate the public value of education in communities up and down the country.”
In her manifesto, Pearce said her priorities for her presidency would include linking college and university students’ unions together to fight for local wins in the upcoming general election; to campaign for a single central admissions system for all colleges and universities; and to increase efforts to organise and support students to run and win campaigns in their local areas.
All of the Lancaster delegation voted for Pearce. Ste Smith, LUSU President, said on her election: “I am really looking forward to seeing what Toni will do for students next year. I think it is fantastic that the NUS not only has a female president, and our first from a FE background, but most importantly one who has a strong record of campaigning on and getting wins for students.”
The hearts of Conference however were won by Samuel Gaus, the University College London student speaking on behalf of the Inanimate Carbon Rod. The Rod promised in its manifesto to “represent all students, regardless of politics, and without sarcasm or aggression or inaccessible language and behaviour, because; as an inanimate rod, it is incapable of having or displaying emotions”.
The Rod withdrew from the election immediately on finishing its hust, so it will never be known whether it would have gained any sort of mandate. If elections were won on laughs though, there would have been only one contest.